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  • This Subject Area Index lists all CALI lessons covering Criminal Law.
  • The Criminal Law Outline allows you to search for terms of art that correspond to topics you are studying to find suggestions for related CALI Lessons.

Criminal Law

Homicide (Murder by Degrees)

At common law, as well as under modern statutory codes, the crime of murder was defined as a homicide committed with "malice aforethought." Some modern statutes divide the crime of murder into degrees. In this lesson, we examine these statutes in an effort to see when and how they apply. The lesson is intended for students who have studied the murder by degree statutes in class, and who wish to refine and enhance their knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Homicide (Murder)

At common law, as well as under modern statutory codes, the crime of homicide was (and is) divided into various component crimes. In addition to the crime of murder, the most serious crime, there are other crimes (e.g., voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc.). This lesson provides an overview of the crime of murder by examining how that crime was handled under the common law, as well as how it is handled under the Model Penal Code, and other modern statutory approaches. Subsequent lessons will provide more detailed examination of these topics.

Homicide (Unlawful Act Manslaughter)

This is one of a series of lessons on homicide. Earlier lessons provide an overview of the crime of homicide, and individual lessons focus on such topics as murder, manslaughter and other crimes. This lesson focuses on the so-called unlawful act manslaughter doctrine. The lesson is intended for students who have studied this doctrine in class and who wish to refine their knowledge of the topic.

Introduction to Homicide

This lesson provides a basic overview of the law of homicide. It is an introductory lesson to get you started on distinguishing criminal from noncriminal homicide, identifying the elements of homicide, and analyzing the varying degrees of homicide. The lesson guides you through applying the basic concepts of actus reus, mens rea and causation to homicide offenses and provides an analytical framework for approaching homicide problems. Finally, it provides separate practice questions and an opportunity to try out the problem-solving approach on an exam-type question.

Justification Defenses: Excuse Defenses Distinguished

This lesson focuses on the distinctions between justification and excuse defenses. Many of the major legal scholars and commentators have distinguished justification and excuse defenses. However, the modern view often blurs the distinction. This lesson points out the principal theoretical distinctions as well as the areas of substantial confusion or controversy with respect to classification, both at common law and under the Model Penal Code. The lesson also describes those circumstances in which classification one way or the other makes a difference.

The Mens Rea of Attempts

This lesson is one of several addressing the offense of criminal attempt as set forth in the Model Penal Code. In this lesson, students consider broad concepts relating to the law of attempts, such as what mental state, if any, should be required for punishing an incomplete offense (with reference to theories of punishment), how the punishment of an attempt should compare to that for a completed offense, and how certain crimes not so labeled are actually particular kinds of attempt offenses.

The Mens Rea of Negligence

This lesson examines the mental state of negligence as set forth in the Model Penal Code. In particular, the lesson presents some material on the rationale for punishing at negligence level (or not), as well as examining the concept of "failure to perceive." Finally, the lesson examines the nature of the risk at issue in negligence, drawing particular attention to the Code terms "substantial" and "unjustifiable," and to the simultaneously subjective and objective aspects of the Code's definition of that risk.

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